Coconut Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

23 Mar

I got tired of waiting for warm weather to debut these cupcakes…if it’s not going to feel like spring, it can at least taste like spring!  While I tend to gravitate towards chocolate desserts, it’s hard to say no to a delicious piece of key lime pie…especially when that piece of key lime pie comes in the form of a cute cupcake.

I came up with the idea for these cupcakes from my Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes that I made last year.  However, I decided to change the cupcake base and adapt one of my favorite cupcake recipes: Coconut cupcakes from The Barefoot Contessa.  (If you haven’t made these cupcakes before, you should add them to your todo list now-they’re that good!  …And then you should make these key lime pie cupcakes!)  My version here omits the almond extract (while delicious, I felt it would add conflicting flavors) and decreases the amount of coconut used.  The end result is a moist, white cupcake with a hint of coconut- the perfect canvas for the remaining cupcake components.

The cupcakes are then filled with a tart lime curd (adapted from Joanne Chang’s Lemon Curd recipe).  The remaining lime curd is used to make a fluffy lime frosting before getting topped with a graham cracker crust crumb.

Now a word on using key limes versus regular limes… While my local whole foods did have actual key limes, they are more expensive than regular limes and they are much smaller which increases the work of juicing them substantially.  Since I was feeling lazy (relatively speaking, I mean I did make these cupcakes entirely from scratch) I decided to use regular limes to save myself some time and muscle strength.  Key limes are supposed to be slightly more tart and bitter than regular limes so if anything, I just ended up with a sweeter cupcake!

Coconut Cupcakes (modified from Barefoot Contessa)20140317-163515.jpg

Makes 18-20 cupcakes

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
4 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 4 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely

Lime Curd (Modified from Joanne Chang’s Lemon Curd)

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1-1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. kosher salt

In a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan, heat the lime juice and butter over medium-high heat until just under a boil. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk and then slowly whisk in the sugar until combined. Gradually whisk the hot lime juice mixture into the sugar and eggs.

Return the mixture to the saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and scraping the bottom of the pan frequently, until the curd thickens and coats the spoon, 2 to 4 minutes. Draw your finger along the back of the spoon; when the curd is done, it should hold the trail.

Remove the curd from the heat and strain it through a fine sieve into a bowl. Whisk in the vanilla and salt. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic onto the surface of the curd, and chill for 1 to 2 hours before using. Can be made 5 days ahead of time, keep refrigerated.

Lime Frosting

1/2 cup lime curd (above)
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter at room temperature
4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, divided
2 tsp lime zest
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a standmixer with a whip attachment, whip the butter and 2 cups of powdered sugar until combined. Add the lime curd and mix to combine. Gradually add the remaining 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed to thoroughly incorporate all ingredients. Add the cream and whip for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.

Graham Cracker Crust

7 whole graham crackers, coarsely broken
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with foil.  Blend graham crackers, melted butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar in processor until moist clumps form. Press crumb mixture over prepared baking sheet.   Bake crust until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.  Let cool.   Crumble again into crumbs to use for topping cupcakes.

Assembly

Reserve 1/2 cup of lime curd for the frosting (above).  Pipe or inject the remaining lime curd into the center of the cupcakes.  I did this by using a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip (you can also use a syringe or if all else fails, cut a small cone out of the center of the cupcake and spoon in the lime curd).  Next, frost the tops of the cupcakes with the lime frosting- it doesn’t really matter if it looks pretty (unless you’re a perfectionist!) since you’ll be dipping the tops in the graham cracker crust crumbs next!

“Well, let’s give that key lime pie a day in court, and a big old glass of non-fat milk, if you please” ~Natural Born Killers

Spicy Sausage, White Bean and Kale Soup

15 Mar

 

Despite “springing forward” last weekend, winter continued to threaten this past week with snow showers and below freezing temperatures.  The return of the cold weather left me running for my earmuffs and mittens and craving warm, comforting foods like this quick and easy soup.  The beauty of this soup is that it only calls for 5 main ingredients (6 if you add noodles) and can be made in about 20 minutes…and it is actually healthy and contains no butter (I bet you never thought I could do it)! It derives most of it’s flavor from the spicy sausage but you can use a mixture of regular and spicy sausage, if desired, to tone down the spice level.   Enjoy and cross your fingers for warmer weather ahead!

Spicy sausage, white bean, and kale soup

(serves 4)

1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 to 1 lb spicy chicken sausage (about 3 links), casings removed
6 cups chicken broth
1 14oz can of white beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch of kale, chopped
handful of egg noodles (optional)
grated parmesan cheese (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium/high heat.  Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the sausage and cook until browned.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat to bring to a simmer and add white beans.  If using noodles, add these now and cook according to package directions (usually only several minutes).  In the final minute of cooking, mix in the kale until wilted.  Ladle into serving bowls and top, if desired, with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

3 Mar

I know I’ve waxed poetic about the delicious combination of chocolate and peanut butter before, but this dessert takes the cake! (pun intended)

I think I first saw this recipe from Smitten Kitchen when I was in medical school, but for some reason, never came around to actually making it.  This past weekend the opportunity presented itself: my co-resident’s 30th birthday!   He loves chocolate and peanut butter so when his wife “hired” me to bake his birthday cake, I knew exactly what to make!

The cake consists of fluffy peanut butter cream cheese frosting sandwiched between 3 layers of soft, rich chocolate cake.  What takes this cake over the edge is the chocolate-peanut butter glaze (more like a ganache) that drapes over the entire cake at the end.  According the the birthday boy it’s the “best cake ever”!

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze

(makes an 8-9 inch triple layer cake that serves 12-16)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. (Note: These cakes are very, very soft and are much easier to work with after firming them up in the freezer or refrigerator for 30 minutes)

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer.  Next coat the entire cake with a “crumb coat”–a thin layer that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer frosting layer.  Chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm, then use the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coating.  Chill again for 15-30 minutes prior to pouring on the chocolate-peanut butter glaze.

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

Cookies and (Ice) Cream Sandwiches

22 Feb

I’ll admit it…I’ve been lazy.  I promise that I have actually been cooking and baking for past several weeks of my blog hiatus!  Unfortunately, the whole work/saving lives thing has gotten in the way of documenting my tasty treats for the blogging world to drool over.  For those who have missed me, here is a much belated Super Bowl post.

One of my favorite memories from childhood involves football and my dad:  When I was in 3rd grade we had a whole month of gym dedicated to football.  One of our homework assignments was to watch football and learn the rules of the game.  Now I’m sure most of the boys were excited by this assignment but I would have much preferred to do math equations or read about chemistry (I was a really cool kid when I was 8).  I naturally put the assignment off, but one Monday night after I had gone to bed, my Dad came and woke me up to watch Monday Night Football.  Just me and him-our little secret! I’m sure my mom knew but it felt pretty secretive back then to be up late on a school night watching football!

While I’m by no means a football expert these days, I do still remember a few rules of the game that my dad taught me that night.  And once a year, I recall those lessons and suffer through 3 hours of football for the sake of eating delicious food- aka the Super Bowl!  My foodie friends and I have made somewhat a tradition of it and this year was no different; Roasted pig’s head and feet tacos from a beloved local restaurant, chicken wings, kale salad, chipotle bean dip, and chips and guacamole rounded out the feast.   Obviously a feast like this called for an equally amazing dessert- ice cream sandwiches!  However, these are no ordinary ice cream sandwiches.   These combine the Flour Oreo cookie with the mascarpone cheese ice cream I’ve adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.  They were a little messy to eat but a great ending to a not so exciting Super Bowl!

Cookies and (Ice) Cream Sandwiches

For the Oreo Cookies:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

20140222-143816.jpg

In a medium bowl, whisk the butter and the sugar until combined. Whisk in the vanilla and melted chocolate. Add the egg and stir until well blended.

In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to blend them. Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. The finished dough should feel like Play-Doh. Cover the dough with plastic, and set aside for 1 hour or until firm.

Place the dough on a long sheet of parchment paper. Use your hands to shape it into a rough log, about 10 inches long and 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Place the log at the edge of the parchment. Roll the parchment around the log. With your hands on the paper, roll the dough into a tighter log, keeping the diameter the same.

Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or until it is firm enough to slice without crumbling.

Set the oven at 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Remove the dough from the paper. Cut the log into about 24 slices- I used thicker slices than the recipe calls for so they would stand up better to the ice cream. Set them on the baking sheets 1 inch apart.

Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, checking them often after 15 minutes, or until they are firm when touched in the center.  Cool completely on the sheets.

For the Mascarpone Ice Cream:

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
8 oz of mascarpone cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup

Prep
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the mascarpone cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Cook
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Chill
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the mascarpone cheese mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Freeze
Pour the ice cream into your ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Assembly

Once the ice cream has chilled, roll into a log about 3 inches in diameter and then chill again until frozen and holds its shape.  Cut into 12 approximately 1/2 inch slices and top half of the oreo cookies with the ice cream slices.  Then top with the remaining oreo cookies and serve.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

14 Jan IMG_4228

What do you get when you combine Flour bakery and the Barefoot Contessa? Chocolate and peanut butter? Sinfully delicious chocolate peanut butter cupcakes!

I originally found a recipe for chocolate peanut butter cupcakes on another food blog which used Ina Garten’s peanut butter frosting recipe. I loved the frosting but was not a fan of the cupcake which was too dense and dry (the actual chocolate cupcake recipe was not Ina Garten’s). So for take #2 of these cupcakes I decided to rely on my old favorite chocolate cupcake recipe (also featured in my St. Patty’s Day cupcakes): Joanne Chang’s chocolate cupcake from the Flour bakery cookbook.

The new combination was a success resulting in a softer/moist (sorry for people who hate that word) cupcake that was a much better complement to the fluffy peanut butter frosting. These have probably become one of my most requested cupcakes!

Recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes (From Joanne Chang’s Flour bakery cookbook)
Yield: 12 standard size cupcakes

2 oz (56 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (30 gram) Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
1/2 cup (one stick/114 grams) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (80 gram) water
1/2 cup (120 gram) milk
1 egg
1 yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (140 grams) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Line your muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.

In a large heatproof bowl, combine chocolate and cocoa powder. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the sugar, butter, and water, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves (3 to 4 minutes). Pour the butter mixture over the chocolate and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly and whisk the milk, egg, extra yolk, and vanilla into the chocolate mixture until combined.

In a bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until blended. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Let the batter sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour to thicken. Or, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling until at least 3/4 full. Bake for 30 minutes or until the tops spring back when pressed lightly with a fingertip and they pass a toothpick check. I usually start checking after 20-25 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Cupcakes can also be made in “mini” form. Makes 36 mini cupcakes. Fill mini cupcake tin with about 1 Tbs batter per cupcake. Bake for 13-15 minutes.

Peanut Butter Frosting (from Barefoot Contessa)

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
7.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Assembly

Spread or pipe peanut butter frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Enjoy!

“I got to thinking about relationships and partipbcupal lobotomies. Two seemingly different ideas that might just be perfect together- like chocolate and peanut butter.”

~Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

Momofuku Milk Bar Compost Cookies

23 Dec

When you’re working crazy 24 hour shifts in the emergency room, it’s hard to find time to eat.  So what’s better than combining many snacks into one for the upmost efficiency (and deliciousness!)?  The Momofuku Milk Bar Compost Cookie is the perfect cookie for this.  Their recipe is a combination of salty and sweet flavors with a bit of crunch by using chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and yes, even potato chips, pretzels, and coffee!  The beauty of this cookie is that you can use any snacks you have on hand.  Instead of butterscotch chips, I used mini white chocolate chips and Reeses Pieces.  So start baking and get creative with your favorite snacks, be it potato chips, toffee, snickers bars or M&Ms!

Baking note: As I mentioned in my post on the Momofuku cornflake, chocolate chip and marshmallow cookies, I prefer to make smaller cookies (about 1 tablespoon of dough) and instead bake them at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Although health obviously isn’t my ultimate goal with my baking, I do try to practice portion control by making and eating smaller servings…and sharing as much as possible!

Momofuku Milk Bar Compost Cookies

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature20131216-140726.jpg
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons glucose (or corn syrup)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini butterscotch chips
1/2 cup Graham Cracker crust (recipe to follow)
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 1/2 teaspoons ground coffee
2 cups potato chips
1 cup mini pretzels

Directions:
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. 

Combine the butter, sugars, and glucose (or corn syrup) in the bowl of a standmixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes. 

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. 

Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips (or treats of your choice), graham crust, oats, and coffee and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the potato chips and pretzels and paddle, still on low speed, until just incorporated. Be careful not to over mix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips.



Using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop (or a 1/3-cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrapand refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature – they will not bake properly. 

Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment or silicone baking mat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. After 18 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if that’s not the case. 

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage. At room temperature,cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 milk powder
tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1/4 cup heavy cream

Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients. 

Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as a glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional tablespoon of butter and mix it in. 

Eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

(Very Very Very) Belated Thanksgiving Post

17 Dec

When I started my internship, my residency program decided for the first time (in likely 200 years) to institute a holiday schedule and give each of us several days off over either Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years.  What this means, of course, is that we have to work extra over the other holidays but we take what we can get!  This year I was lucky enough to have Thanksgiving off.  I obviously love this holiday because it’s all about the food (and giving thanks I suppose).  After a 2 year hiatus from cooking Thanksgiving dinner due to work (thanks Mom for cooking instead!), I was excited to get back into the kitchen to host Thanksgiving dinner!  This year I hosted my parents and my second family- aka fellow residents who were not lucky enough to get Thanksgiving off to spend time with their own families.  Below are some of the highlights (links to recipes inlcuded)!

Pictured above: Dried apricot and date stuffed turkey breast, roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and shallots, mashed sweet potatoes with pecans and crispy shallots.

The dried apricot and date stuffed turkey breasts is a tried and true recipe that I have made every Thanksgiving for the past several years.  It is perfect for a smaller Thanksgiving and also avoids the problem of dried out turkey breast.  Plus, who can say no to bacon?

Dessert of course was the highlight of the meal and no Thanksgiving dinner can be complete without some sort of pumpkin dessert.  The above bourbon-caramel pumpkin tart graced the cover of my November Fine Cooking magazine and I had to try it.  It starts with a cornmeal shortbread crust (which I almost ruined) and is filled with a pumpkin custard filling and bourbon caramel before finally being topped by roasted candied pumpkin seeds (pepitas).  A fun twist on a Thanksgiving classic!

The above black-bottom peanut butter mousse pie was the favorite dish of the night.   The recipe is simple but it is hard to go wrong with the combination of peanut butter and chocolate!  I did modify the recipe a bit after reading reviewers’ comments.  I only used 3/4 of the chocolate ganache for the bottom and reserved the rest to pipe on top at the end (and then topped with roasted peanuts).  Many reviewers suggested substituting the peanut butter chips with peanut butter and confectioner’s sugar which I followed for an excellent creamy peanut butter result.  I have a feeling that my friends will be requesting this pie often!

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